In Twenty Boomeritis Blunders, Jim Andrews accuses Ken Wilber of twenty blunders ranging from mild to serious in his novel, _Boomeritis_. Matt Dallman lauds this as “funny and intellectually rigorous” and talks about the necessity of skeptical investigation of Wilber’s work.
Matt also tries head off a “poor argument” against Andrews essay, by noting that:
>”… of course Wilber’s book is an attempt at fiction. But the same intellectual framework that undergirds that books undergirds the last five or so non-fiction books from him.”
So, I started this essay with some hope of some reasonable argument. I encourage you to read Andrews’ essay and make up your own mind if it’s valid, especially if you’ve read _Boomeritis_ and especially if it irritated you.
Basically, the “blunders” Andrews enumerates fall into X groups:
**Slack writing**: the typo in #0, calling reviewers “critics” in #5 and Wilber’s repetitiveness in #1
**Bad fact checking**: the bogus legal cases in #2, #3, #4, incorrect naming in #6, #8, dumb statements about Vietnam in #7, incorrect attribution in #10
**Lack of evidence**: for physical transformation in #14, for paranormal phenomena in #15, for meditation as a transformative practice in #18, for most growth being in the young and the old in #20
**Bad arithmetic**: #16, #17 (although it isn’t clear that apples are even being added to oranges in these passages)
**Disagreements in emphasis**: not mentioning the politicization of literary criticism in #9, not spending enough time talking about the negative effects of tofu in #11, not spending enough time talking about feminism, and leaving it to one character to dismiss it in #12, talking about sex too much in #13
**Writing fiction in a novel:** … in #19.
To take any of this seriously, you have to set aside, as Matthew suggests, that Andrews has strangely chosen to critique a novel rather than non-fiction writing – if you don’t you’re struck with the fact that he’s criticising statements made by fictional characters (rather than Wilber). Even accounting for that, it seems to me you could take the slack writing, bad fact checking and bad arithmetic charges and either lay them at the feet of Wilber’s editors or simply recommend he stick to non-fiction. I can’t really take the disagreements in emphasis or #19 seriously (too. many. sexual. fantasies!?) – they all just boil down to saying, essentially, “I didn’t like the guy’s book, I would have written it differently”. It’s by no means clear that Andrews’ rewrite would have made it any better as a novel.
That all leaves us with, in my opinion, four “blunders” out of twenty that aren’t sort of… silly; and they’re all lack of evidence (which in this context means peer-reviewed publications) for four things presented as facts:
– physical changes in ITP,
– paranormal phenomena,
– the efficacy of meditation in mental growth and
– developmental growth being restricted to mostly the young and the elderly.
I agree that it would be preferable if these things were either presented a lot more conditionally or someone found or published some evidence for them. Burying them in amongst typos, writing critique and your issues about people expressing their sexuality (however puerile you might find it) hides an important point, I think.
But what would I know?
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